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People, week of August 15, 2011

Edge Sales & Marketing, a leading retail broker located in Pleasanton, CA, has hired DIANE KIRKPATRICK as retail operations manager, assisting in the development and execution of retail best practices and go-to-market strategies. She will have direct ongoing communication with the clients and retail partners, and will also follow the company’s business initiatives across all U.S. Safeway banners.

Diane Kirkpatrick
Edge Sales specializes in the sales and marketing of value-added and commodity produce to Safeway as well as to other retailers and distributors in the Northern California market. The firm provides services in business management, account management, analytics, marketing and retail merchandising.

Ms. Kirkpatrick previously worked at Advantage Sales & Marketing as a sales manager and Edge Sales & Marketing as a retail manager. In 2009, she moved to Colorado with her family and worked for Daisy Brands as a retail sales leader. At Daisy, she was responsible for retail strategy and execution with the chain and independent supermarkets across national divisions.

In a press release announcing Ms. Kirkpatrick’s hiring, Edge President Brad Raffanti said, “Retail execution is an extremely important ingredient for clients’ and retailers’ success. We are committed to improve and expand our services in this area.”


RON PALERMO has been named director of business development for Arrow Farms, Gold Bell and DiSilva Fruit in Boston. He said that he has held the position since February and is “in charge of generating new business as well as expanding the growth of our existing business.” The companies sell various types of potatoes, onions and citrus.

Ron Palmero
Mr. Palermo said that he enjoys the produce industry because “it’s small, yet big. There are a lot of close relationships, but there is also big opportunity.”

He has been working in the produce industry for 17 years, and his career began “at Procacci Brothers., the best possible place to start,” he said.

Mr. Palermo has also spent time working for Four Seasons in Ephrata, PA. Additionally, he spent eight years working for Del Monte Fresh, where he began as a district sales manager and was promoted to general sales manager.

In addition to his current position with Arrow Farms, Gold Bell and DiSilva Fruit, Mr. Palermo is a member of the Eastern Produce Council and the New England Produce Council.

He lives in Merrimac, MA, with his wife, Jennifer, and his two daughters, Hayley, 11, and Avery, 5.

In his free time, Mr. Palermo enjoys golf, basketball, baseball and coaches girls basketball. He also said that he loves spending time with his family and their Goldendoodle, Lexi.


Columbia Fresh Produce Inc. in Walla Walla, WA, has hired two new employees. ALISON BRUGGEMAN has taken over as the director of sales, and SUE FREYER is the company’s new executive assistant.

Prior to joining Columbia Fresh Produce on July 11, Ms. Bruggeman was the director of sales at the San Diego Marriott.

While she is new to the company, Ms. Bruggeman is familiar with the area. Before she left for college, she grew up in Walla Walla. She enjoys spending time with her family and is currently involved in the Junior Club of Walla Walla and Young Life, a youth outreach program.

Ms. Freyer has also made a recent move to Walla Walla from California. This is her first job in the produce industry.

While living in California, she was the manager at a health club for 14 years. Ms. Freyer and her husband, Eddie, recently relocated to Washington, where he is the under sheriff of Walla Walla County.

In her free time, Ms. Freyer enjoys outdoor activities, including hiking and going for rides on her steel-frame touring bike.


Temecula, CA-based West Pak Avocado, a year-round grower-packer-shipper of avocados with production facilities and partnerships throughout the United States, Mexico and Chile, has hired MATT SMITH as the company’s new Midwest sales representative.

Matt Smith


Mr. Smith, a 2009 graduate of the University of Arizona with a degree in business, trained with West Pak’s sales and operations teams at its headquarters in Temecula before moving to Chicago to begin working from the company’s new sales office, located within West Pak’s regional distribution and ripening facility. In addition to his sales responsibilities, Mr. Smith will oversee West Pak’s JustRipe! avocado ripening program.

“The addition of Matt in this newly established position will help us with customer relations and business development in the Midwest region,” Doug Meyer, vice president of sales and marketing, said in an Aug. 9 press release. “Before joining our company, Matt worked at C.H. Robinson, where he gained valuable logistics and sales experience. His experience will serve us well with the dynamic market and geographic opportunities that we can access from our Chicago location.”


LEONARD GERIA has rejoined Seashore Fruit & Produce in Atlantic City, NJ. As of July, Mr. Geria is the marketing manager for the company. His previous employment at Seashore Fruit & Produce took place from June 2010 until March 2011. During this time, Mr. Geria was a sales representative with the company.

In his time away from Seashore, he held a marketing position at a local marina.

Before his initial employment with Seashore Fruit & Produce, Mr. Geria was with Samuels & Son Seafood in Philadelphia, where he handled sales of fresh and frozen fish.

Mr. Geria is currently a member of the Professional Chefs Association of South Jersey and the American Culinary Federation.

In his leisure time, he enjoys offshore fishing with friends. While he targets primarily tuna and marlin, a hammerhead shark is known to have found his hook.


BRUNO DISPOTO was appointed purchasing director for Growers Organic LLC in June. He handles a full line of commodities.

Most recently, Mr. Dispoto spent three years working for Montana Vistas LLC in Kalispell, MT. As director of purchasing, his duties took him to Toronto for a year-and-a-half. He also spent eight months in the United Kingdom, where he worked “for a special fresh and organic project for major retailer.”

Additionally, Mr. Dispoto said that he spent 20 years “operating a produce brokerage business based in Yuma, AZ, with a buying office in Prunedale, CA.

Aside from a brief stint from 1976 to 1982, he has been a part of the produce industry nearly all his life. “My father grew table grapes in California and Arizona and also had his own produce brokerage business,” he said.

In his free time, Mr. Dispoto runs and goes to the gym. He also enjoys reading and keeping up with international news.


To announce personnel changes at your company, please contact Assistant Editor Ryan Beckman at 201/986-7990, ext. 109, or Photos are encouraged.